Despite being pushed onto the back-foot in recent campaigns, designed to crackdown on the group, ISIS has struck again. In another of the Islamist faction’s merciless assaults, jihadists stormed the city of Deir Al-Zor over the weekend, carrying out suicide bombings, car bombings, executions, and kidnappings.
While different reports indicate varying death tolls, it seems that this was one of the bloodiest massacres that have occurred within the scope of the Syrian Civil War, which broke out in 2011 – in which over quarter of a million have been killed, and millions have been displaced.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights declared at least 135 civilian dead, with 85 being civilians and the rest being regime fighters, while Syrian-based news sources declared it at 300 at the bare minimum. Denouncing the death as a “massacre”, state-funded Sana reported that most of the deaths were elderly people, women, and children.
If Sana’s reports are accurate, then it is indeed the most catastrophic attack that has occurred from the militant group.
In any case, the attack was clearly disastrous for the neighbourhoods caught up in the conflict. While suffering pivotal defeats in recent months, notably in Ramadi in Iraq, when pushed back by government forces and Shia militiamen, it seems the power balance has swung again, with ISIS seemingly bouncing back.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also declared that at least 400 civilians have been kidnapped by ISIS militants in the recent assault on Deir Al-Zor. Such an act is commonplace for not only ISIL, but other Islamist groups across the globe, including Nigeria’s Boko Haram. From the view of these factions, kidnapping is a profitable act, with reports showing that from 2008-2014, $125 million has been accumulated from this, in the form of ransoms. ISIL of course, use it for propaganda purposes to, in online videos, to spread terror into the minds of viewers in the West.I n the case of the Syrians who were recently kidnapped however, most of them being Sunni civilians, their fate is likely simple: become recruits for the death cult’s further campaigns in the Middle East, or face execution.